Campbell on Jags: ‘This 2019 team could be very special’

There is a new day and a new feeling in Duval County with the Jacksonville Jaguars. They have a new quarterback, who happens to be a Super Bowl-winning QB in Nick Foles; running back Leonard Fournette is healthy and hopes to rebound from a disappointing 2018. Also, there is still a lot of talent on defense, which will be led by Jalen Ramsey, Myles Jack, and Calais Campbell. Plus, rookie DE/LB Josh Allen has played well in the preseason.

Campbell, who was apart of the 2017 Jaguars that went to the AFC title game, believes this version of the Jaguars could have something special.

“Well, it’s a new year, a new opportunity, but this 2019 could be very special,” Campbell said after the Jaguars’ loss to the Dolphins on Thursday night. “It’s just one game in the preseason. It’s a clean slate, but I do believe that if we play up to our level, if we could play like the level we are capable of playing, we’ll be a very tough team to beat.

“This team could be very, very special. This defense could be very special. I like going three-and-out. That’s kind of like what I want. That should be the standard.”

Last night, Foles made his Jaguars and preseason debut against the Dolphins. Foles finished the game 6-10 for 48 yards and one touchdown and an interception. As a whole, Foles was happy to be out there with his teammates.

“Obviously there’s some good, there’s some bad. I think the big thing it was just good being out there,” Foles said. “It’s always good just stepping in the huddle, playing in games. It was my first time wearing the Jaguars uniform in a game. That is emotional in itself. So it was a good first step forward. We were able to move the ball a little bit, score a touchdown. Obviously, we wanted to score more points. And there’s things that we’ll learn from. But all in all, it was just great being out there with the guys today.”

The Jaguars’ defense should be very good in 2019 and was a top-five defense in 2018. I don’t think there are many questions about that side of the ball. The question will be if whether Foles is truly the guy for this team at the QB position, and anytime you give a player a four-year, $88 million contract, you want some serious results, and the pressure is on Jacksonville to make serious noise in 2019, but if Campbell is right, Jacksonville could be one of the teams to beat this season.

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Stills on Flores playing Jay-Z songs during practice: ‘I don’t think a little bit of Jay-Z is going to really ruffle my feathers’

Miami Dolphins WR Kenny Stills continues to kneel before every game during the National Anthem and recently, has been very critical of rapper Jay-Z’s recent partnership with the NFL.

On Tuesday, Dolphins head coach Brian Flores decided to play eight straight Jay-Z songs during practice, which some felt was in response to Stills’ criticism of Jay-Z. However, Stills was not bothered.

“It was just music, was my reaction,” Stills said after the Dolphins’ victory over Jaguars on Thursday night. “We play music at practice every day, and Coach (Flores) kind of came up to me during practice, and was like ‘we’re going to be playing Jay-Z today,’ and that was it.”

Stills revealed why Flores decided to go with that particular playlist.

“We talked about it in house, and he handled it in house, but for the most part I think it was just him trying to see if I could handle if someone was going to heckle me, or play Jay-Z music in another stadium, if I was going to be mentally strong enough to withstand that type of treatment I guess,” he said. “I’ve been dealing with this since 2016 – music, boos, racial slurs, so I don’t think a little bit Jay-Z is going to really ruffle my feathers that bad.”

After the Dolphins’ victory over the Jaguars, Flores revealed the method behind the madness:

“So after the playlist was done, what you guys don’t know is I walked up to Kenny in front of the entire group and said, this is a challenge to you to get open, catch the football and make plays for this team regardless of what’s going on outside of this building,” Flores said.

“The next day – because there was a lot more attention paid to this than I ever would have imagined – I got up in front of the team, and I told them that I support Kenny. I support Kenny. I support the player protests. I mean, quite honestly, they’re bringing attention to my story. So let’s talk about that. I’m the son of immigrants. I’m black. I grew up poor. I grew up in New York during the stop and frisk era, so I’ve been stopped because I fit a description before. So everything that these guys protest, I’ve lived it. I’ve experienced it. So, yeah, I applaud those guys who protest. So whether it’s (Colin) Kaepernick or Eric Reid or Kenny (Stills), I applaud those guys. I told Kenny that in our meeting, in front of the entire team. So that’s where I stand on this thing, and I think it got – it got way more press than it needed to.

“I’m trying to challenge one of my players, and I’m going to do that how I see fit. Look, what these guys protest about is important. I lived it. I experienced it. I don’t know how many people have, but I lived it. So I understand why guys protest, and it’s important. But you know what else is important to me? That guys perform. There’s 89 guys in that locker room who are counting on Kenny to get open, catch the football, and perform for this team, and that’s important to me. If anybody’s got a problem with that, then we’ve just got a problem. We’re going to agree to disagree.

“I feel like that’s important, and that’s where I stand on this thing. Whatever scrutiny or media or whatever I get, then that’s what I get. I believe, and that’s it. Look, the player protest, I lived it. I mean, I don’t know how many people in here have, but I lived it. So that’s where I’m at on that. It was a challenge to Kenny to perform regardless of whatever’s going on outside. I would say – and I’ve said this to him – he hasn’t performed to that level over the course of this training camp as I’ve seen him. So that was a challenge.”

Stills will definitely get heckled throughout the season, and in reality, you practice to prepare for all situations, including taunting, so on some level, you have to give Flores credit for recognizing the moment, and using it as a teachable moment.

 

Shurmur on Jones: ‘He moved forward in his progress of being ready to play’

The Giants’ preseason record remains perfect. Their performance Thursday night wasn’t.

Dropped passes, a lost fumble, and too many penalties – though just five were accepted – were all part of a 25-23 victory against the Cincinnati Bengals in Paul Brown Stadium. The Giants improved to 3-0 this month, with one more game – next week at New England – before the regular-season opener in Dallas on Sept. 8.

“I thought the guys competed hard like they did the first two weeks,” coach Pat Shurmur said. “It was probably just a little bit sloppier than I think we would all have liked to see. But the one good thing about this game is we played everybody, and we got a chance to evaluate everybody doing what they do. That will help us as we move forward here picking our 53 (man roster).”

Several players stated their case to be on that roster, including wide receiver Brittan Golden, who caught two passes for 59 yards and returned a punt 68 yards for a touchdown (though he fumbled the ball away when he next fielded a punt); tight end Garrett Dickerson (two catches for 30 yards), and rookie receiver Darius Slayton (an acrobatic 27-yard catch to set up a touchdown in his first action). The Giants had five sacks, including two by third-round draft choice Oshane Ximines. Corey Ballentine started at corner and tied for the team lead with seven tackles (five solo). Rod Smith and Jon Hilliman each scored on one-yard runs.

But the best news for Shurmur and Co. continues to be the outstanding play of the Giants’ top two quarterbacks, 16-year veteran Eli Manning and first-round rookie Daniel Jones.

For the third week in a row, Manning played only the game’s first series. He completed four of eight passes for 41 yards, numbers that would have been much better had Cody Latimer not dropped two passes, including one in the end zone that forced Aldrick Rosas to score the game’s first points with a 41-yard field goal.

“He did a good job,” Shurmur said of Manning. “He did a really good job.”

In his three brief stints – which is likely to be his full body of work for the preseason – Manning has hit nine of 13 passes for 86 yards and one touchdown.

“I feel like we’ve had good practices, and in the last two preseason games, I’ve made some plays and done some good things,” Manning said. “I just have to continue to work and get ready. (I’ll need to) watch this film, look at it, make some adjustments and work on those things this week. I don’t know how much we’ll play in this last preseason game, but (I’ll) keep working hard, make some improvements and get ready for Dallas.”

Jones, meanwhile, continues to post impressive numbers. He completed nine of 11 passes for 141 yards. In three games, only five of his 30 passes have not found their intended target, and none were caught by the opposing team. That’s an 83.3 completion percentage, which is attention-grabbing even in the preseason. He has thrown two touchdown passes and his passer rating is a striking 140.1.

He demonstrated a new element to his game vs. the Bengals, the ability to shake off a brutal hit and near turnover to throw one of his best passes of the summer. Jones was hammered by linebacker Carl Lawson on his third possession and fumbled (the ball was recovered by Golden). On the very next snap, Lawson again charged full speed at Jones, who stood strong in the pocket and threw a terrific pass to the left side to fellow rookie Slayton, who was stopped at the one-yard line. Smith scored the Giants’ first touchdown two plays later.

“That’s something that coach (Mike) Shula (the offensive coordinator) and coach Shurmur talked about a lot, just having the next play mentality,” Jones said. “I was just trying to give Darius a chance there. He made a heck of a play.”

Shurmur liked how his young quarterback responded to Lawson’s legal assault.

“You take hits, you know?” Shurmur said. “He came to the sidelines and I said, ‘That was a good one.’ He said, ‘Well, I’m sure I’ll get hit harder than that at times.’ He was fine. I think he did a good job. He got us into the end zone. He made some really good throws. He has a good feel for a couple of the deep balls he threw, when the defender was in close proximity, giving the receiver a chance at the ball. Those are two of the results on a couple of his deep balls. But he sees things well. He moved forward in his progress of being ready to play. Each week he does things. He’s into it. I adjust on the run quite a bit and he can handle it, which is fun when you’re calling plays and trying to make adjustments to attack what you see on defense. He can handle it.”

That has become very evident. And Manning and Jones both playing at a high level is good for the Giants.

*Tight end Evan Engram saw his first action of the preseason when, like Manning, he played only the first series. Engram caught one pass for nine yards. Why did he play and not Saquon Barkley?

“I thought Evan needed it a little bit more,” Shurmur said, “just because (we wanted him to get) the confidence of being out there and because I wanted to.”

*Linebacker Jonathan Anderson hurt his knee and will be evaluated Friday.

The following Giants players did not play: Barkley (coach’s decision); wide receivers Golden Tate (concussion) and Sterling Shepard (thumb); cornerbacks DeAndre Baker (knee), Antonio Hamilton (groin) and Sam Beal (hamstring); linebacker Alec Ogletree (calf); and offensive linemen Chad Wheeler (back) and George Asafo-Adjei T (concussion).

*Without Barkley, the Giants rushed for 56 yards on 26 carries, the same 2.2-yard average they posted in the opener vs. the Jets.

Courtesy: Michael Eisen

O.J. Anderson believes he belongs in the Hall of Fame

For 14 seasons, former NFL RB Ottis  “O.J” Anderson was a powerhouse.  He averaged over 1200 yards in his first six seasons in the NFL with the St. Louis Cardinals and would go on to win two Super Bowls with the New York Giants, which included being named MVP in Super Bowl 25.

The two-time Pro Bowler would retire in 1993. He finished his career with 10,273 rushing yards and 81 touchdowns on the ground. When Anderson stepped away from the game, he ranked seventh in rushing touchdowns and eighth in rushing yards.

Anderson had a great career and a career that should warrant serious consideration for the Hall of Fame. However, Anderson has been eligible for the Hall since 1999, and at this point, he will have to continue to wait a little longer. But if were up to Anderson, his number would be called

“Welp, if you look at stats, and that’s what they go by, there’s no doubt I should be. For whatever reason, they just don’t seem to not understand,” Anderson recently told Paul Gant about the Hall of Fame. “You know what, I ain’t play the game for the Hall of Fame; I played the game because I enjoyed it. I wanted to make a lot of fans happy. I think I accomplished those two things. If I get the third one, which is the Hall of Fame, I would be excited about it.

“I just hope I’m alive when they do it. I mean no offense to Terrell Davis, he just got in. He has way less yardage than me, but again, he is a very fine running back. I don’t know what criteria they’re judging it on, but if it’s on yardage, and other things tangible that goes with it, I think my resume looks pretty good.”

Anderson does have a strong case. As he said, he does have a lot more rushing yards than Davis(Anderson: 10273, Davis: 7607), and also, like Davis, Anderson has a Super Bowl MVP.

Unfortunately, for whatever reason, his career is not getting the respect it deserves. Hopefully, he can get in at some point, and hopefully, as the 62-year-old Anderson said, he will be alive to see it.

 

 

 

Zimmer on Sloter: ‘There’s a lot of things that he has to get better at if he wants to be the backup quarterback’

Coming into the 2019 season, the Minnesota Vikings have their starting QB set and ready to go in Kirk Cousins, and the backup at this point is fifth-year quarterback Sean Mannion.

However, if third-year quarterback Kyle Sloter continues to play well in the preseason, he could make the case that he should be the backup to Cousins.

In two preseason games, Sloter has completed 17 of 20 passes for 178 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions. Sloter was impressive against the Seahawks on Sunday as he went 11-13 for 116 yards and one touchdown.

The numbers look good, but according to Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer, the numbers don’t tell the whole story.

“I don’t know. I don’t know that you guys know all the little details about everything, you just see how he goes and does the game,” Zimmer said about Sloter on Tuesday. “He’s got to get a lot better in a lot of the other parts of being a quarterback. Making the right checks, getting people in the right formation, making sure the motion is there, not missing the time clock when it’s eight yards in front of you. There’s a lot of things that he has to get better at if he wants to be the backup quarterback.”

With those comments, it seems clear that Zimmer has more faith in Mannion coming into the season, and it’s hard to argue. Mannion has more experience and has started a game in the NFL. Plus, Zimmer knows what he sees in practice, and that is enough for him to know that Mannion is the guy to backup Cousins in 2019.

Giants QB Daniel Jones responds to Baker Mayfield

When the New York Giants took former Duke QB Daniel Jones with the number six overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, a lot of people were stunned, shocked, and surprised, including Cleveland Browns QB Baker Mayfield, who was very critical of the pick.

“I cannot believe the Giants took Daniel Jones… Blows my mind,” Mayfield recently told GQ Magazine. 

“Some people overthink it,” he said. “That’s where people go wrong. They forget you’ve gotta win.”

Today, Mayfield clarified his comments via Instagram. He said the following:

 “This is not what I said, just so we’re clear,” Mayfield wrote. “I also said I was surprised I got drafted No. 1. Then was talking about the flaws in evaluating QBs. Where I brought up winning being important. Reporters and media will do anything to come up with a click bait story. Heard nothing but good things and wish nothing but the best for Daniel.”

 Thus far in the preseason, Jones is showing that the Giants may have made the right pick, and today, he responded to Mayfield’s comments.

 Here is what he had to say:

 Q: What’s your reaction to Baker Mayfield’s comments?

 Jones: I try not to listen to much that’s said. I think I’ve done a pretty good job of that. I heard that before, I kind of have the same mindset, I certainly have a lot to focus on here, I have a lot to worry about here and I’m focused on that. It’s been good, but just focused on what I’m doing here.

 Q: Is it any different that a player in the league criticized you being picked?

 Jones: I don’t think so. Like I said, my focus is here, in the building, my teammates, coaches, and everyone a part of this organization, has been my focus. When you get outside the building, I don’t think it does a whole lot to focus on that for me. Certainly focused on here.

 Q: Does it motivate you to prove people wrong?

 Jones: I don’t think that’s a main motivator for me. I think there is a lot of things before that that motivate me, to be honest.

 Q: Do you know him at all?

 Jones: I don’t, no.

 Q: Did it seem out of left field to you?

 Jones: Yeah, a little bit. Like I said, I don’t know him, I have never spoken to him. He has an opinion, a lot of people have opinions.

 Q: Coach Shurmur said just because you are calm out there doesn’t mean you aren’t fired up inside, is that the case?

 Jones: Like I said, there are a lot of things that motivate me before something like that would. I think I am a very passionate person. I don’t always show it, but I think I am a very passionate person.

 Q: What would you say if someone looked at your stats and record and said, “well, this guy is a mediocre quarterback, look at his record”?

 Jones: Going back to Duke, I wish we did win more games. I played a big part in that. I take responsibility for that, I wish we did win more games. Our goal was always to win ACC championships and to go to big bowl games and we weren’t able to do that. I don’t look back on that without a large responsibility for that.

 Q: Do you feel you’re a winner?

 Jones: I do. I have always felt like I am. Growing up and competing, I think I am a competitor and I think I’m a winner.

 Q: Can you change someone like Baker’s perception if you’re not playing? Is it annoying that you have to wait to play to prove people like that wrong and shut them up?

 Jones: I don’t think so. Like I said, there is a lot that I need to focus on here. There is a lot that I need to do to improve, and to make sure that I’m moving forward. That’s what I’m focused on. I’m not sure that’s the best motivator. If that’s the thing you’re looking forward to doing the most is proving them wrong, I’m not sure that’s the best way to improve every day or the best way to really get where you want to go.

 Q: If you were on the field and a player said that to you, would you trash talk back?

 Jones: Maybe I’d say something, but I don’t know. I’d make sure we win the game.

 Q: Do the people who know you best think it’s really hard to make you angry or that they rarely see you angry?

 Jones: Yeah, for the most part. Maybe my little brother would say something else (laughter). For the most part, I try to do a pretty good job at controlling myself. I feel like I’m thinking best and playing best when I’m in control of myself.

 Q: Do you agree, you have to be kind of wired to be like that?

 Jones: Yeah, I do think that’s part of my personality.

 Q: Do you ever sit there and say, ‘why are you bothering with me when you have your own team to worry about?’

 Jones: I’m not sure I would do it that way, but everyone has a different way of doing things. Like I said, my focus is here. Our focus is here. I think I speak for the team— we’re really focused on what we’re doing here and making sure we’re ready to play going into the season.

 Q: Have you seen Baker play, and what do you think of him as a quarterback?

 Jones: Yeah, I’ve seen him play. I watched him in college and a little bit in the last year. I think he’s a great player. He can throw it, and I enjoy watching him play.

 Q: Why don’t you tell us how much you are going to play?

 Jones: I don’t know, I really don’t know. That’s up to coach and we’ll see how it goes. I look forward to getting back out there.

Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer reacts to Holton Hill’s hit on Paxton Lynch

Keeping your starting quarterback healthy is essential for all 32 teams in the NFL, and the league goes out of its way to protect them. However, this is football, and sometimes things happen, which was the case last night in Minnesota.

Late in the 4th quarter, Seattle Seahawks QB Paxton Lynch was scrambling, and before he could get down, Lynch was walloped by Vikings CB Holton Hill in a vicious helmet-to-helmet hit. Lynch would leave the game, and Hill would get ejected.

According to Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll, Lynch is in concussion protocol, while Hill, who was already suspended for the first eight games of the regular season for violating the NFL’s policy on substances of abuse, and for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing substances, will probably lose some more money for the illegal hit.

After the game, Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer reacted to the hit.

“Number one, we don’t want to see anybody get hurt,” Zimmer said. “I told Pete (Carroll) that after the game. I was sorry about his quarterback. Number two, he can’t drop his head. But saying that, when a quarterback is running an option, he ought to be fair game other than lowering your head and hitting him in the head. If they’re going to let these quarterbacks be runners, we should be able to hit him. He didn’t hit him legally. We need to (be able to) hit these guys.”

It’s a tough thing to legislate at times, but in the end, you go helmet-to-helmet with a quarterback, you are probably going to pay a hefty fine and possibly get ejected. Hate it or love it; this is just the nature of the game in 2019.

Foles: ‘I did have elbow issues in 2017’

Eagles DE Brandon Graham raised a few eyebrows recently when he said this about his former teammate and current Jaguars QB Nick Foles earlier this week:

 

As we know, Foles went on to have a magical 2017 season as he led the Eagles to a victory in Super Bowl 52 against Tom Brady and the Patriots.

Today, Foles addressed Graham’s comments. Here is what he had to say:

(On Brandon Graham’s comment that 2017 might be Foles’ last season because of elbow issues):

Foles: “Yes, B.G. texted me afterwards saying, ‘I didn’t mean [to start] all that.’ I had some elbow issues that were well-known at that time and documented in Philly, so I missed training camp. The elbow issues, Dr. [Eon K.] Shin is there, a lot of guys go see him. He’s a wonderful guy, so I was able to get everything cleared up. I felt good. It was one of those things where when I was in St. Louis, it was also well-documented that after that, I was going to step away from the game. It was sort of a combination of both of those moments. But, yes, I did have elbow issues in 2017 that were very difficult at the beginning of the season and got better as the season went on.”

(On if he is having any issues with his elbow now):

Foles: “No. My body feels great. Obviously if you play football you’re going to have bumps and bruises and get soreness. But my body feels great. I do everything I can to monitor [my health] – a clean diet and do great recovery.”

Well, based on how things ended in 2017, and based on what we saw out of Foles last season in Philadelphia, it is safe to say that the elbow looks good. in reality, Jacksonville probably does not give him a four-year contract worth $88 million if his elbow was not in good shape.

In the end, this story just makes what happened with Foles and the Eagles in 2017 even more magical.

 

Jaguars sign RB Elijah Hood, release QB Tanner Lee

The Jacksonville Jaguars have signed second-year RB Elijah Hood to their 90-man active roster, the club announced today. To make room on the roster, the Jaguars released QB Tanner Lee.

Lee was drafted in the sixth round by the Jaguars in the 2018 NFL Draft and mostly spent time on the team’s practice squad last season.

Hood, 5-11, 230, spent the 2018 season on Carolina’s reserve/injured list. In 2017, he saw action in one game on special teams for Oakland and spent 15 weeks on the Raiders’ practice squad.

Hood attended the University of North Carolina from 2014-16 and played in 34 games, totaling 2,580 rushing yards and 29 TDs. As a sophomore in 2015, he ran for 1,463 yards and 17 TDs, earning second-team All-ACC honors.

Shurmur on Jones: ‘I think he’s making good progress and as he goes along here, he’s checking off all of the boxes’

For New York Giants rookie QB Daniel Jones, preseason game number two came with some adversity. Jones, who was the sixth overall pick in this year’s draft, had two turnovers against the Bears in the Giants’ 32-13 victory over Chicago at MetLife Stadium on Friday night.

While Jones did have two turnovers (two fumbles), he did have a relatively strong game, as he completed 11 of 14 passes for 161 yards and one touchdown.

Jones continues to impress, but he knows he has to protect the football a little better moving forward.

“I was very upset. I think those are two mistakes you ‘can’t make,” Jones said about the turnovers. “One time we were driving with the ball in scoring position and I made a costly mistake there, and then kind of holding the ball in the pocket, two bad mistakes, so definitely things to learn from.”

Giants head coach Pat Shurmur continues to be happy with the Jones’ development, and he believes New York made the right choice on draft night.

“Again, I am going to say this—people outside our building seem surprised, but ‘we’re not. ‘That’s why we picked him,” Shurmur said about Jones. “I think ‘he’s making good progress and as he goes along here, ‘he’s checking off all of the boxes. I think when ‘it’s his time to play, he will be ready. I am pleased with the progress ‘he’s making.”

Just like Giants owner John Mara said this week, the hope is that Jones does not see the field this season, and Shurmur agrees.

“John owns the team, right? We’re on the same page,” Shurmur said. “There is really not much more to say. I think I’ve been saying it all along.”

After two preseason games, Jones is happy about the progress he has made thus far but knows he has to continue to get better.

“I think ‘I’ve made progress, and I think in certain areas I feel a lot more confident than I did even when camp started, or even a couple of weeks ago,” Jones said. “I think ‘there’s still so much to learn for me. I think ‘I’m certainly more confident, more comfortable, but I see a lot of things I need to improve on.”

Jones has proven that he has some ability in the first two preseason games, but his two turnovers show why he may not be ready for primetime just yet, which is not a bad thing for New York, especially if the 38-year-old Eli Manning, who was 4-4 for 42 yards and one touchdown on Friday, can have a strong showing in 2019.